$80k fine for am­pu­ta­tion

Central Telegraph - - NEWS - Aden Stokes [email protected]­news.com.au

LACK of su­per­vi­sion and train­ing has been blamed for a grue­some work­place in­ci­dent which re­sulted in an in­ex­pe­ri­enced labourer los­ing his right hand.

On Mon­day, Rock­hamp­ton Mag­is­trates Court heard the in­ci­dent hap­pened while the young and in­ex­pe­ri­enced worker was em­ployed as a pipe­line labourer for McCon­nell Dow­ell Con­struc­tors near Biloela.

On July 19, 2013, he was work­ing with the plant op­er­a­tor when he no­ticed a piece of root lodged in the trench­ing ma­chine.

He reached in with his right hand be­tween the roller and con­veyor to push the root out, caught his shirt sleeve be­tween the roller and the plant con­veyor, which dragged his hand into the ma­chine.

His hand was am­pu­tated at the wrist joint.

Work­place Health and Safety Queens­land told the court the in­ci­dent was a fore­see­able and iden­ti­fied haz­ard and the con­trol mea­sures de­tailed in the safe work method state­ment were in­ad­e­quate and ad­min­is­tra­tive only.

The court heard su­per­vi­sion and train­ing of the worker was lack­ing and not what was de­tailed in the New Em­ployee De­vel­op­ment Pro­gram. He had not been pro­vided with a men­tor and was un­su­per­vised at the time of the in­ci­dent.

McCon­nell Dow­ell high­lighted the ex­ten­sive steps taken to im­prove safe work sys­tems gen­er­ally and make its plant safe post-in­ci­dent, but said the ma­chine was not de­signed with, or ever fit­ted with guard­ing. They said to at­tach guard­ing went against the man­u­fac­turer’s rec­om­men­da­tions and would have ob­structed the labourer’s view of the in­ner work­ings of the ma­chine.

The court heard the trench­ing ma­chine was no longer used af­ter the in­ci­dent and that con­sid­er­able sup­port was pro­vided to the in­jured labourer, in­clud­ing em­ploy­ing him in al­ter­nate work us­ing his en­gi­neer­ing qual­i­fi­ca­tions.

Mag­is­trate Jeff Clarke im­posed an $80,000 fine and $2900 court costs with no con­vic­tion recorded, agree­ing that young work­ers were en­ti­tled to a higher level of su­per­vi­sion.

He ac­knowl­edged the ex­ten­sive post-in­ci­dent sup­port pro­vided to the worker by McCon­nell Dow­ell, the lack of any pre­vi­ous WHS con­vic­tions, and the com­pany’s re­morse and ac­cep­tance of its wrong­do­ing.

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